Song of the Andoumboulou: 60

By Nathaniel Mackey b. 1947 Nathaniel Mackey
The vote came in early. We ignored
   it. No ballout-box auction for us...
Nub’s uninstructed dance’s bare
     feet, music we took them for.
                                                At a
 loss with only bodies to fend with,
  nonsonant waves kept coming,
sang without wind,      saltless,
     waterless,      Nub’s inverted
 run, Nub newly vented by horns
   elsewhere, bells full of insect
     husks... Nonsonant scruff held
 on to, sheerness... Nothingness
  it seemed we grabbed at, gathered,
beginning to be unending it seemed.
   were beginning to be lured again,
ready to be hectored, huthered, move
  on, beginning to be uprooted again...

    A peppered expanse the country we
crossed. Space doled out so stingily
      we wept, love’s numb extremity
  the outskirts of Nuh, name whose
     we embraced... A tale told many
times over, known before it reached
       us, known before we knew, un-
     backed alley of soul we wandered
       shadowbox romance it was called...
    Come of late to creation’s outskirts,
  rub’s new muse a republic of none, a
       yet-to-be band the band we were...
     We were Andoumboulou, dreamt
      habitants of “mu,” moored but
 immersed, real but made up, so much
     farther flung than we’d have thought...
    They the would-be we lay on a bed
  the size of Outlandish. Lip attesting
        lip, tongue rummaging tongue,
      between finger and thumb the hem
    of her dress, flat bead of sweat, salted
       A hammer hit them each on the head.
     Hammered heads rang and rang without
  end...      Called it creation, called it
   their clime, close where there was otherwise
       distance,      mute endearment,      recondite
     embrace... So much farther, felt even
mouth she remembered, home. His to hear
     her tell it, hers were it his to say, whose
   book was of lengthening limbs, hers of
 unquenchable kiss... A tale told over and
    long since known by heart. Lay belly to
  back, turned belly to belly, each the other’s
dreamt accompanist, music they made in
 their sleep... Frayed hem the interstice,
    moot rule. Time’s moot rule amended,
  advance it was
also called

Nathaniel Mackey, “Song of the Andoumboulou: 60” from Splay Anthem. Copyright © 2002 by Nathaniel Mackey. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Splay Anthem (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2006)

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Poet Nathaniel Mackey b. 1947


Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

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 Nathaniel  Mackey


Born in Miami and raised in Southern California, poet, novelist, editor, and critic Nathaniel Mackey received his BA from Princeton University and his PhD from Stanford University.
Mackey cites poets William Carlos Williams and Amiri Baraka, in addition to jazz musicians John Coltrane and Don Cherry, as early influences in his exploration of how language can be infused and informed by music. In a 2006 interview with Bill . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, History & Politics


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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